(June 13, 2017) A-10 Thunderbolt II fighters are no longer on the imminent retirement list, but that does not mean that the full inventory of attack aircraft are safe.
A good chunk of the Air Force’s fleet of 283 A-10s may still have to be grounded, according to a CNN report Tuesday.
The Air Force has warned Congress that 110 A-10s need new wings or will have to be grounded. The service has paid for new wings to extend the life of the other 173 aircraft, but lacks the funds to restart the plant that makes new wings.
hat means without additional funding, about 40 aircraft would have to be grounded by 2021, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Sefanek told CNN.
Boeing previously made the replacement wings for the A-10, but the company has shut down its production line.
The Air Force included the $103 million for new A-10 wings in its fiscal 2018 “wish list” of unfunded requirements. In other words, Congress now has to come up with the money. If it does, the funds, along with $20 million provided in the current fiscal year, would pay for opening a new line and the production of four new wings, an Air Force official told CNN.
Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, an acquisition official for the Air Force, testified to Congress that the service was committed to maintaining six of its nine A-10 squadrons flying through 2030.
“Additional A-10 force structure is contingent on future budget levels and force structure requirements,” Bunch wrote in his written testimony.
The original plan was for the F-35A Lightning II to replace the A-10, but the close-air-support capability of the legacy aircraft has proved vital in the fight against the Islamic State.
Air National Guard wings in four states fly the A-10—Idaho, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan